delara newsDelaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH VOL 37 NUMBER 3
A bunch of odds and ends for everyone this month.
Ham Cram SessionsI received a piece of feedback worth sharing from December’s article on the “ham cram” type training sessions. One group in the section is working on a cram session for new licensees. That will be followed up with a “now what” session. The follow up session would have mentors and elmers available to help get new hams on the air.Depending on the success, this may be followed up with a General class too.I think it’s a great idea to follow up with the “now what” session in a more relaxed environment for learningand getting them comfortable being on the air. Digital Communications in Amateur Radio I’ve been working on my Digital Communications in Amateur Radio series for the Wood County Amateur Radio Club. The series started with an overview of Ham radio digital modes and how to get your station setup with different interface options. From there I’ve been taking an introductory look into specific modes, though mostly ones used on HF. My articles are available in the club’s newsletter, CQ Chatter, found on the Wood County Amateur Radio Club Website (past years are on the CQ Chatter Archives page) or available on my site as well. Check them out to get an introductory look at digital modes.Latest additions:• Conversational Digital Modes like PSK, RTTY, MFSK, Olivia (February 2017)• Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System or NBEMS (August 2017)• Winlink (February 2018)Yaesu Fusion AnnouncementsAfter the New Year, Yaesu released an announcement with regard to their Fusion C4FM offerings.• The DR-2X purchase program will continue through June 30, 2018.•A trade-in program is available for current DR-1X repeater owners (they will not accept the beta version) towards the purchase of a DR-2X. $300 if you are trading in a DR-1X and only want the DR-2X repeater. If you wish to include the IMRS IP linking option in the DR-2X, the price will be $500.•Buying the DR-2X outright is $900. $1100 to include IMRS.•New Firmware will be released for DG-ID and DP-ID functionality in the DR-1X repeaters. Much like the Wires-X upgrade, it is very likely the repeater will need to be sent back to Yaesu for this firmware upgrade.Operating PSK31• They are releasing the DR-1X FR. The DR-1X FR is a “factory refurbished” DR-1X for $400. It willhave the DG-ID and DP-ID firmware already installed. The DR-1X FR cannot be used for the trade inprogram towards a DR-2X. The discounted prices listed for the DR-2X and DR-1X FR require an application available from Yaesu.Firmware upgrade details or applications can be obtained by contacting John Kruk - N9UPC (Sales Manager forYaesu USA) at email@example.com or through the Yaesu Service department. Yeesh. Lost yet? I won’t rehash my thoughts on Fusion (see August & September 2017 editions of the OSJ)but I think this announcement only further fragments their offering.TinkercadSpeaking of Makers, I saw a video on the Amateur Logic podcast that demonstrated TinkerCAD electronics. Ifyou’ve done anything with 3D printing, you’ve probably used Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a product of Autodesk,makers of software for architecture, engineering, and construction manufacturing. As Tommy demonstrates inthe video, Tinkercad has an electronics section to simulate building electronic circuits and projects. This can beused as a great introduction into electronic circuit building for students and kids. The simulator has many typesof electronic components: switches, capacitors, Arduinos, diodes, power supplies, oscilloscopes,potentiometers, resistors, ICs, breadboards, motors, servos, sensors, and of course – wires!Tommy duplicates a simple blinking LED project he built in a previous episode using the simulator – evenusing the exact same Arduino code. I wondered if there was a product available to simulate circuit building and was quite impressed how well the simulator worked. Check it out in Amateur Logic episode 113. To sign up and start “tinkering,” go to: https://www.tinkercad.com/. 6 years or so ago, they were charging for the service. It appears when Autodesk took it over, it’s been free to use. Scanner Anti-encryption BillLastly for this month, I’m a scanner listener and I’m intrigued by the State of Ohio’s MARCS-IP public service safety system (Multi-Agency Radio Communications over IP). In short, it’s a state wide P25 digital communications system that allows users to be anywhere in the state and communicate with their agency. Once of the selling points for any commercial digital system is the ability to encrypt. Only those authorized can “unscramble” the transmission, meaning scanner listeners are locked out of listening to that particular group, or system in a few cases. Agencies love it and scanner listeners hate it.Our friends in the Colorado section made headlines last month when State Government Liaison and Section EC Robert Wareham - N0ESQ participated in drafting what is being called the “anti-encryption Bill.” With the backing of Colorado State Representative Kevin van Winkle (R), the bill outlaws blanket encryption by state and local governments striking a balance between transparency and the public’s right to monitor public agencies. Legitimate needs of confidential investigations and tactical operations are not protected under the bill. There are criminal penalties for those who monitor these communications to further a criminal enterprise, avoid arrest, detection,or escape capture.While this bill only applies to Colorado, it could set a path for other states to draft something similar. Encryption for public radio systems is always a hot topic with completely valid points on both sides. There is a 51 page thread on the topic in the Radio Reference forums debating reasons both ways.